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Court / Lerwick man admitted grooming underage girl online

A MAN has admitted embarking on an illegal online sexual relationship with an underage girl and acting in a threatening and abusive manner by brandishing a knife at a woman and making threats.

Ellis Birnie, 25, of Sandveien, pleaded guilty to the charges at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

The court heard that Birnie struck up a relationship on Facebook with the 15-year-old girl that ran from 15 August till 4 September last year when the girl told a social worker, who reported the matter to the police.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the girl was in residential care outside Shetland when the offences came to light.

Birnie was in regular contact with the girl, who had made it clear at the outset that she was only 15 years old.

There had been no physical meeting between the pair, though Birnie had offered to travel to meet her and asked for indecent images of her.

On one occasion he had asked her “if you show me yours and I’ll show you mine”, which she did not understand, but ended up displaying her breasts over the video link.

There were a “significant number of messages exchanged of a very intimate sexual nature,” according to the fiscal.

Birnie admitted intentionally communicating with the underage girl for purposes of obtaining sexual gratification as well as attempting to meet her.

He also admitted brandishing a multi-tool knife at a woman after a row on 31 January whilst on bail and threatening to knife her partner.

The court heard that Birnie fled when her partner came into the room. He disposed of the knife before he was arrested by police nearby.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank called for a criminal justice social work report and a restriction of liberty assessment before sentencing on 10 March.

Birnie will also be subject to notification requirements of the sex offenders legislation.

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